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The American West in 2000

Essays in Honor of Gerald D. Nash

Edited by Richard W. Etulain and Ferenc M. Szasz

The ten original essays commissioned for this book focus on historical subjects in the post-World War II American West. The late Gerald Nash, in whose honor the essays were written, made major contributions to the study of modern American and western American history, and his impact on those fields is demonstrated in these essays by several generations of his students and colleagues.

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The Americanization of West Virginia

Creating a Modern Industrial State, 1916-1925

John C. Hennen

Local teachers and ministers extolling the virtues of hard work and loyalty to God and country. Veterans' groups and women's clubs promoting the military fighting radicalism, and equating business and patriotism. Industrial leaders gaining legal as well as moral influence over national domestic policy. Such scenes might seem to be lifted from a Sinclair Lewis novel or a Contract with America publicity video. But as John C. Hennen shows in this piercing analysis of early-twentieth-century American political culture, from 1916 to 1925 "Americanization" became the theme -- indeed, the script -- not only of West Virginia but of the entire nation.

Hennen's interdisciplinary work examines a formative period in West Virginia's modern history that has been largely neglected beyond the traditional focus on the coal industry. Hennen looks at education, reform, and industrial relations in the state in the context of war mobilization, postwar instability, and national economic expansion. The First World War, he says, consolidated the dominant positions of professionals, business people, and political capitalists as arbiters of national values. These leaders emerged from the war determined to make free-market business principles synonymous with patriotic citizenship. Americanization, therefore, refers less to the assimilation of immigrants into the national mainstream than to the attempt to encode values that would guarantee a literate, loyal, and obedient producing class.

To ensure that the state fulfilled its designated role as a resource zone for the perceived greater good of national strength, corporate leaders employed public relations tactics that the Wilson administration had refined to gain public support for the war. Alarmed by widespread labor activism and threatened by fears of communism, the American Constitutional Association in West Virginia, one of dozens of similar organizations nationwide, articulated principles that identified the well-being of business with the well-being of the country. With easy access to teacher training and classroom programs, antiunion forces had by 1923 rolled back the wartime gains of the United Mine Workers of America. Middle-class voluntary organizations like the American Legion and the West Virginia Federation of Women's Clubs helped implant mandated loyalty in schoolchildren.

Far from being isolated during America's transformation into a world power, West Virginia was squarely in the mainstream. The state's people and natural resources were manipulated into serving crucial functions as producers and fuel for the postwar economy. Hennen's study, therefore, is a study less of the power or force of ideas than of the importance of access to the means to transmit ideas.

The winner of the1995 Appalachian Studies Award is a significant contribution to regional studies as well as to our understanding of American culture during and after World War I.

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Among the Enemy

A Michigan Soldier’s Civil War Journal

Edited by Mark Hoffman

Though many Union soldiers wrote about their experiences in the American Civil War, few had the vantage point of William Horton Kimball, a member of the First Michigan Engineers and Mechanics. As a military engineer, Kimball spent most of his time behind the major lines of conflict and often worked among civilians who sympathized with the enemy. In Among the Enemy: A Michigan Soldier's Civil War Journal, author Mark Hoffman presents Kimball's journal as a unique window into wartime experience. Kimball was a prolific writer, and his journal is full of detailed accounts of expeditions into a hostile countryside, the bitter war against guerillas, and of the civilians caught in the middle of a traditional war waged with nontraditional means. He comments freely and openly on the strengths and weaknesses of his officers and comrades caught up in the same war. At the same time, Kimball provides moving accounts of when the Engineers were thrown into the line of battle at Perryville and Lavergne and proved themselves as soldiers capable of traditional combat. Through Kimball's account, readers can chart the important evolution of Union war policy regarding occupied populations, as well as how the American views of warfare broke down when combat moved from battlefield to countryside and soldiers in the rear became important targets for enemy action. Civil War historian Mark Hoffman introduces Kimball's writings and provides some background on Kimball's life as a soldier. He accompanies the journal entries with illustrations and maps. Kimball's account reminds readers that there was a time when Americans who honored the same founders and national holidays were seeking to kill each other in a bitter war behind the lines of traditional armies. Readers interested in military history and the Civil War will enjoy the inside perspective of Among the Enemy.

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Anatomy of a Lynching

The Killing of Claude Neal

James R. McGovern. foreword by Manfred Berg

"A sensitive and forthright analysis of one of the most gruesome episodes in Florida history... McGovern has produced a richly detailed case study that should enhance our general understanding of mob violence and vigilantism." -- Florida Historical Quarterly

"[McGovern] has succeeded in writing more than a narrative account of this bloodcurdling story; he has explored its causes and ramifications." -- American Historical Review

"A finely crafted historical case study of one lynching, its antecedents, and its aftermath." -- Contemporary Sociology

First published in 1982, James R. McGovern's Anatomy of a Lynching unflinchingly reconstructs the grim events surrounding the death of Claude Neal, one of the estimated three thousand blacks who died at the hands of southern lynch mobs in the six decades between the 1880s and the outbreak of World War II.

Neal was accused of the brutal rape and murder of Lola Cannidy, a young white woman he had known since childhood. On October 26, 1934, a well-organized mob took Neal from his jail cell. The following night, the mob tortured Neal and hanged him to the point of strangulation, repeating the process until the victim died. A large crowd of men, women, and children who gathered to witness, celebrate, and assist in the lynching further mutilated Neal's body. Finally, the battered corpse was put on display, suspended as a warning from a tree in front of the Jackson County, Florida, courthouse.

Based on extensive research as well as on interviews with both blacks and whites who remember Neal's death, Anatomy of a Lynching sketches the social background of Jackson County, Florida -- deeply religious, crushed by the Depression, accustomed to violence, and proud of its role in the Civil War -- and examines which elements in the county's makeup contributed to the mob violence. McGovern offers a powerful dissection of an extraordinarily violent incident.

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Ancestral Mounds

Vitality and Volatility of Native America

Jay Miller

Ancestral Mounds deconstructs earthen mounds and myths in examining their importance in contemporary Native communities. Two centuries of academic scholarship regarding mounds have examined who, what, where, when, and how, but no serious investigations have addressed the basic question, why? Drawing on ethnographic and archaeological studies, Jay Miller explores the wide-ranging themes and variations of mounds, from those built thousands of years ago to contemporary mounds, focusing on Native southeastern and Oklahoma towns.
 
Native peoples continue to build and refurbish mounds each summer as part of their New Year’s celebrations to honor and give thanks for ripening maize and other crops and to offer public atonement. The mound is the heart of the Native community, which is sustained by song, dance, labor, and prayer. The basic purpose of mounds across North America is the same: to serve as a locus where community effort can be engaged in creating a monument of vitality and a safe haven in the volatile world.

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Ancient Chiefdoms of the Tombigbee

Written by John H. Blitz

A Dan Josselyn Memorial Publication


Within the last 50 years archaeologists have discovered that around the 10th century A.D., native southeastern peoples began a process of cultural change far more complex than anything that had occurred previously. These late prehistoric societies—known as Mississippian—have come to be regarded as chiefdoms. The chiefdoms are of great anthropological interest because in these kinds of societies social hierarchies or rank and status were first institutionalized.


Ancient Chiefdoms of the Tombigbee focuses on both the small- and large-scale Mississippian societies in the Tombigbee-Black Warrior River region of Alabama and Mississippi. Exploring the relationships involving polity size, degree of social ranking, and resource control provides insights into cycles of chiefdom development and fragmentation. Blitz concludes that the sanctified, security maintenance roles of communal food storage management and war leadership were a sufficient basis for formal chiefly authority but insufficient for economically based social stratification.

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And There I Stood with My Piccolo

Meredith Willson

And There I Stood with My Piccolo, originally published in 1948, is a zesty and colorful memoir of composer Meredith Willson’s early years—from growing up in Mason City, Iowa, to playing the flute with John Philip Sousa’s band and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, to a successful career in composing for radio and motion pictures in Hollywood. It was apparent to everyone, except maybe Willson himself, that he was on his way to something big.

Lighthearted and inspiring, it is no surprise Willson’s tales caught the attention of prominent Broadway producers. In 1957, just nine years after the publication of this book, The Music Man became a Broadway sensation, winning five Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Meredith Willson’s musical comedy is to this day arguably the most produced and beloved musical in American culture.

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Andrew Jackson, Southerner

Mark R. Cheathem

Many Americans view Andrew Jackson as a frontiersman who fought duels, killed Indians, and stole another man's wife. Historians have traditionally presented Jackson as a man who struggled to overcome the obstacles of his backwoods upbringing and helped create a more democratic United States. In his compelling new biography of Jackson, Mark R. Cheathem argues for a reassessment of these long-held views, suggesting that in fact "Old Hickory" lived as an elite southern gentleman.

Jackson grew up along the border between North Carolina and South Carolina, a district tied to Charleston, where the city's gentry engaged in the transatlantic marketplace. Jackson then moved to North Carolina, where he joined various political and kinship networks that provided him with entr?e into society. In fact, Cheathem contends, Jackson had already started to assume the characteristics of a southern gentleman by the time he arrived in Middle Tennessee in 1788.

After moving to Nashville, Jackson further ensconced himself in an exclusive social order by marrying the daughter of one of the city's cofounders, engaging in land speculation, and leading the state militia. Cheathem notes that through these ventures Jackson grew to own multiple plantations and cultivated them with the labor of almost two hundred slaves. His status also enabled him to build a military career focused on eradicating the nation's enemies, including Indians residing on land desired by white southerners. Jackson's military success eventually propelled him onto the national political stage in the 1820s, where he won two terms as president. Jackson's years as chief executive demonstrated the complexity of the expectations of elite white southern men, as he earned the approval of many white southerners by continuing to pursue Manifest Destiny and opposing the spread of abolitionism, yet earned their ire because of his efforts to fight nullification and the Second Bank of the United States.

By emphasizing Jackson's southern identity -- characterized by violence, honor, kinship, slavery, and Manifest Destiny -- Cheathem's narrative offers a bold new perspective on one of the nineteenth century's most renowned and controversial presidents.

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Angola to Zydeco

Louisiana Lives

R. Reese Fuller

Angola to Zydeco: Louisiana Lives is a collection of creative nonfiction pieces about the lively personalities who call south Louisiana home. Originally published in newspapers based in Lafayette-Times of Acadiana and Independent Weekly-the twenty-five profiles and features provide intriguing glimpses into the lives of well-known Louisianans such as James Lee Burke, Ernest J. Gaines, Elemore Morgan Jr., Buckwheat Zydeco, Marc Savoy, Boozoo Chavis, Calvin Borel, Santy Runyon, and Eddie Shuler. Author R. Reese Fuller also details the sometimes zany and sometimes tragic subjects that populate the cultural landscape of south Louisiana, from Tabasco peppers to Angola prison to cockfighting.

Fuller brings years of experience in the newspaper industry to bear on this collection, offering behind-the-scenes access not available elsewhere. Of particular note are his interviews with musicians and local celebrities, who reveal how their love of the region has influenced their work. Fuller's natural approach to storytelling creates a book that is a joy to read and truly represents the people of south Louisiana.

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Ann Arbor Observed

Selections from Then and Now

Grace Shackman

Twenty-five years ago Grace Shackman began to document the history of Ann Arbor’s buildings, events, and people in the Ann Arbor Observer. Soon Shackman’s articles, which depicted every aspect of life in Ann Arbor during the city’s earlier eras, became much-anticipated regular stories. Readers turned to her illuminating minihistories when they wanted to know about a particular landmark, structure, personality, organization, or business from Ann Arbor’s past. Packed with photographs from Ann Arbor of yesteryear and the present day, Ann Arbor Observed compiles the best of Shackman’s articles in one book divided into eight sections: public buildings and institutions, the University of Michigan, transportation, industry, downtown Ann Arbor, recreation and culture, social fabric and communities, and architecture. For long-time residents, Ann Arbor expatriates, University of Michigan alumni, and visitors alike, Ann Arbor Observed provides a rare glimpse of the bygone days of a town with a rich and varied history. Grace Shackman is a history columnist for the Ann Arbor Observer, the Community Observer, and the Old West Side News, as well as a writer for University of Michigan publications. She is the author of two previous books: Ann Arbor in the 19th Century and Ann Arbor in the 20th Century.

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